Check out this review of Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld from briangriggs.com:
“I realized today that there is no main antagonist in the Leviathan/Behemoth series. It’s straight character vs. self and character vs. society. I wonder if that’s why students don’t quite get into the action. The only complaint I’ve received is that there’s so much focus on the history and not on excitement.
The “focus on history” comment is an interesting one, considering the book is about giant flying whales and steam-powered mechs.
Behemoth is a great sequel to Leviathan. It continues documenting the travels of the airship crew as they delve into the Ottoman Empire. There’s a little bit of airship combat but mostly it’s adventuring in the streets of Istanbul as Alek tries to find help to overthrow the German presence. Real ships and vehicles, like the Goeben and the Orient Express, show up, but in steampunk glory.
There is a cutesy mascot that gets added to the party, in the same vein as Gurgi from the Prydain Chronicles. Lots of babbling, lots of cuteness, and I must admit that, until I knew its true purpose, I sided with Count Volger on killing the thing.
In Behemoth, Westerfeld built up the revolution in Istanbul so that it explodes within the last 50 pages of the book. Students who are looking for battles galore are going to be disappointed that it takes such time to develop. Students who love character interactions and a believable world, though, will enjoy it without a doubt.
I’m marketing this book as an adventure, more like Indiana Jones, where there’s running and crashing and stuff like that alongside witty one-liners. We’ll see how it does in October when it hits the shelf.”